|The beautiful Cameron Highlands, looking deceptively non-damp.|
Still, you don't choose your low times. For my boyfriend Miguel and I, it came during three days in the Cameron Highlands, a mountainous area 1500 metres above sea level in central Malaysia. I was really excited to go.
We'd just finished a Workaway volunteer project and were looking forward to having our own space and a few days to be tourists. The Brits turned the land into a holiday place and producer of tea, strawberries and other non-Malaysian type crops. How could I not love a place where I could let out my inner Englishwoman? I envisaged myself having elegant high teas with crumbly scones, touring tea plantations, reading by flashlight in our jungle bungalow and enjoying slow walks on the local trails.
Instead, it rained for a good part of the three days we were there and poor Miguel came down with an infection on his knee. Meaning, we weren't going no where. Fine, but relaxing is awfully difficult when your 'rustic' bungalow smells like a a culturing ground for mold, a dainty crop of mushrooms are establishing themselves in your bathroom and everything is so doggone damp that touching any surface is like chillaxing on under-dried clothes.
Awful. Awful awful awful. I quickly came to HATE this place of never-ending rain, damp and chill. Note to self, do not visit England. Ever! Miguel and I grumpily sequestered ourselves in Starbucks which was the only place in 50 km that felt dry and warm.
|Eating all my feelings.|
Still, like all aversions there was a lot more going on under the surface than just bodily discomfort. I spent seven days at a silent meditation retreat where I slept on a board, took showers from a bucket, and didn't eat after noon. I was fine.
No, the real crux of the problem revealed itself when we had to hitchhike from the bus drop off to our destination: a tea plantation. Cabs were ridiculously expensive and Miguel couldn't walk because of his knee.
Now, I'm the world's worst hitchhiker. I will accept a ride if someone offers it but I hate asking for one -- not because I'm afraid someone will make me into meat confetti but because it makes me feel like a vagabond.
Lately I've been feeling all kinds of vagabond:
- No job
- No property
- No marriage/children that might earn me social stature (and happiness! of course!)
- No life plan
- No fancy possessions that might buffer me from life's ills (save my two Apple products. I will DIE if they die. This is sad, I know).
- No social standing (from something ... I don't know)
So there I was standing by the side of the road. I hadn't showered for two days. Pretty broke and just eking out a living from random writing work. Emotional shit up the ying-yang. Dressed like freaking backpacking Barbie in my pink and grey outfit. Angry. Pissed off. And now hitchhiking.
Proceed towards tantrum. Poor Miguel.
Then suddenly a white pick-up appears. Miguel takes the initiative and scores us a ride. We hop in the back with a bunch of giggling Singaporean girls who work at a jewelry store together. We get to the plantation, ogle the amazing green fields, drink fancy tea with tarts and are generally fine. The pick-up takes us back and we find a cab the rest of the way.
In a nutshell, I'm supposed to be 'working on myself' on this 'great trip.' Peeling away all but the basic necessities to reveal deeper core needs. Instead, I'm feeling mostly like I swallowed a lot of self-help bullshit about finding myself and am actually pissing away my time being poor.
|Indian food is my favorite and Malaysia really delivers. The CH weren't ALL bad.|
Backpacking = glorified poverty
Glorified poverty = actual poverty
Actual poverty = no one wants this
So I feel stupid for going on my little fake slumming-it experience. And mad because I actually do want something intangible and life-changing out of this experience.
It's a lot of feelings!
We're now in the capital of Kuala Lumpur and paying up the arse for a fancy hostel where there's a rooftop bar, drinking water, great wifi, schmacy digs and no mushrooms in the bathroom (eww). It's clean, it's warm, we're re-evaluating exactly what we want from this trip